Emu oil

Scientific Name(s): Dromaius Novae-Hollandiae 1

Common Name(s): Emu

Uses

Historically, the oil has been primarily used topically for its anti-inflammatory effects; limited clinical data are available to support this use.

Dosing

Although not supported by clinical trial data, dosage regimens marketed by commercial Web sites include topical application 2 to 3 times/day to the affected site.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

No adverse reactions have been reported with the use of emu oil.

Toxicology

There is limited clinical toxicological data on emu oil in the scientific literature, and no toxicities have been reported.

History

The Aboriginal people of Australia have used emu oil for centuries. The oil was collected by either hanging the emu skin from a tree or wrapping it around an affected area and allowing the heat of the sun to liquefy the emu fat to enhance absorption or penetration into the skin. 2

Emu oil was used medicinally to treat muscle and joint problems (ie, painful joints, swollen muscles) and a variety of skin conditions (ie, burns, eczema). Other purported medicinal uses include psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. The oil has also been used for cooking as well as for keeping leather riding tackle supple. 2

The Emu Producers International Cooperative (EPIC) oil refinery produces 5000 pounds of oil daily for commercial use in cosmetics such as eye creams, moisturizers, and hair products. 3

Chemistry

There are limited chemical data on emu oil. The International Emu Oil Standards state that emu oil contains myristic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, elaidic, linoleic, linolenic, and eicosenoic fatty acids. Oleic acid is the main fatty acid. 4 , 5

Uses and Pharmacology

Nearly all clinical and scientific studies focus on the anti-inflammatory properties of emu oil.

Anti-inflammatory/Wound healer
Animal data

The anti-inflammatory activities of 5 different preparations of emu oil were examined in Wistar rats. The oils came from birds raised in different habitats. Adjuvant arthritis was induced by caudal injection of a mixture of M. tuberculosis in squalane. The rear paw diameters were measured for signs of inflammation on days 10 and 14. The oil mixtures were applied at the rate of 2 mL/kg on days 10 through 13. Topical application of three of the oil preparations reduced the increase in paw diameter caused by arthritis inflammation over the treatment period. The topical applications of two of the oils had effects comparable to the oral administration of ibuprofen (40 mg/kg). 1 A similar study which generated data over a 24-month period provides further evidence of anti-inflammatory activity. 6

Another study examined the efficacy of emu oil lotion, 100% emu oil, furasin, polysporin, hydrocortisone 1% ointment, and no ointment (control) on full-thickness skin defects in rodents after surgery. Six days postoperatively, wound contraction and infiltration of epithelialized and granulation tissue were assessed; results indicated a 2-fold promotion ( P < 0.05) of wound contraction, epithelialization, and infiltration of organized granulation tissue with emu oil lotion only. 7

Topically applied emu oil reduced the severity of acute auricular inflammation in mice induced by croton oil. The magnitude of swelling and degree of edema were reduced in mice treated with emu oil as compared with controls. 8 , 9

Clinical data

Emu oil was evaluated as a lubricant and aid in reducing scar formation in healed burns. Ten male patients, ranging from 24 to 62 years of age, were evaluated over a 6-month period in a randomized, double-blinded study. Patients were instructed to apply the placebo or emu oil lubricant daily on independent sites as needed. Wound areas treated with emu oil healed significantly better ( P  < 0.02) than the control in photo analysis. 10

Dosage

Although not supported by clinical trial data, dosage regimens marketed by commercial Web sites include topical application 2 to 3 times/day to the affected site.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

No adverse reactions have been reported with the use of emu oil.

Toxicology

There is limited clinical toxicological data on emu oil in the scientific literature. Anecdotal information suggest a lack of obvious toxicity. 2

Bibliography

1. Snowden JM, Whitehouse MW. Anti-inflammatory activity of emu oils in rats. Inflammopharmacology . 1997;5:127-132.
2. Hobday GR. Emu oil. Australian Emu . July/August 1994.
3. Rokicki R. The great emu comeback. Mother Earth News . October/November 2000:16-17.
4. American Emu Association. AEA Oil Standards Team. International Emu Oil Standards . Revision 2. May 1998. http://www.uniquelyemu.com/article13.htm Minnaar M. Introduction to emu oil: Fats and oils in human health. In: Minnaar P, Minnaar M, Minnaar P. The Emu Farmers Handbook . Vol 1. Groveton, TX: Myoni Publishing Co; 1997.
5. Minnaar M. Introduction to emu oil: fats and oils in human health. In: Minnaar P, Minnaar M, Minnaar P. The Emu Farmers Handbook . Vol 1. Groveton, TX: Myoni Publishing Co.; 1997.
6. Whitehouse MW, Turner AG, Davis CKC, Roberts MS. Emu oil(s): A source of non-toxic anti-inflammatory agents in aboriginal medicine. Inflammopharmacology . 1998;6:1-7.
7. Politis MJ, Dmytrowich A. Promotion of second intention wound healing by emu oil lotion: comparative results with furasin, polysporin, and cortisone. Plast Reconstr Surg . 1998;102:2404-2407.
8. Lopez A, Sims DE, Ablett RF, et al. Effect of emu oil on auricular inflammation induced with croton oil in mice. Am J Vet Res . 1999;60:1558-1561.
9. Yoganathan S, Nicolosi R, Wilson T, et al. Antagonism of croton oil inflammation by topical emu oil in CD-1 mice. Lipids . 2003;38:603-607.
10. Penturf M, O'Bannon S, Griswold J. Evaluation of emu oil in lubrication and treatment of healed burned wounds. Presented at: Annual Meeting of the American Burn Association ; March 18-21, 1998; Chicago, IL.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

Hide
(web2)